Everybody's Got A Kelly Slater Story — What's Yours? - Stab Mag

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Guaranteed, these guys on the left can tell you everything about this encounter. Photo: WSL

Everybody’s Got A Kelly Slater Story — What’s Yours?

Tell us, we’ll share it with the world.

stabfm // Jan 4, 2022
Words by Michael Ciaramella
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Have you ever encountered Kelly Slater in the wild?

Perhaps it was a shared session at Soup Bowl, a beer across the bar in France, or maybe you’ve been lucky enough to witness the light glistening off his piercing green eyes during a Hawaiian sunset.

If any of these instances have happened to you, chances are, you remember them. Also, chances are, Kelly does not.

That’s the price of being famous. Every time you go out into the world, people recognize you, and for whatever reason, they put a whole lot of stock into their singular encounters with you, as if the one time you forgot to hold the door for an eldery Italian woman means you permanently hate meatballs.

And you don’t. You were just in a rush and she smelled like aged mozarella.

Anyway, I kicked Kelly Slater in the head once.

I think so at least. I wasn’t looking at him when it happened — I was looking down the line at a gorgeous Lowers wall, with all of life’s dreams and aspirations ahead of me.

Kelly, meanwhile, was paddling — no, levitating — from out the back, gaining ground on a wave that he had no business catching. Presuming it was physically impossible for a person sitting at the peak to catch a tiny inside double-up, I turned and started paddling some 10 meters inside of the GOAT, who, assuming my timeline is correct, had just come off winning his 11th world title.

“You paddling for my wave, guy?” Photo: Morgan Maassen.

So there I was, gingerly stroking into a sweet little righthander, when the wave started picking me up, and I gave a couple kicks for that last jolt of momentum.


My foot his something hard and spherical before wiggling up beneath my chest.

“Was that…?” I thought as I popped to my feet, “…Kelly’s head?”

I genuinely don’t remember what happened next, but I’d have to assume that I safety-surfed the wave all the way to the beach, before crab-walking over the rocks, sprinting back up the trail, and not looking back a single fucking time. There’s no way to paddle back out after kicking Kelly Slater in the head.

It is, of course, possible, that I kicked somebody else in the head, or potentially kicked Kelly somewhere less important body part, like a shoulder or elbow. And I pray to Laird that that’s the case every single day. But the facts remain that Slater was the person most in line with my path at the time, and that when paddling, we tend to lead with our noggins.

But the great thing is, even if I did kick Kelly in the head, he probably said, ‘Fucking little shit,’ and never thought about it again*.

Meanwhile, I will never forget. Because this is my Kelly Slater story.

What’s yours?

Let us know in the comments below. Or better yet, send buck or myself an audio message so we can use it on next week’s pod. [email protected] or [email protected]

Also, read more Kelly stories here.

Ever played chess with Kelly? Us neither. Photo: Todd Glaser

On this week’s podcast, Buck and I discuss our own Kelly stories at length (his involves being locked in a cage with the GOAT), along with…

Mikey February’s new clip by Dane Reynolds
The 21 Most Influential (Surf) People of 2021
E-Bikes To Be Banned From Trestles
What’s New on the North Shore

I then reveal my own psychopathic surf sin, which is maybe not worse than kicking Kelly in the head, but it’s certainly more pre-meditated and maniacal.

In the end, Stab co-founder Sam McIntosh joins the show to discuss our ongoing Stab Surfer of the Year project, wherein 50 influential minds pick the best surfers of 2021.

Tune in above, and feel free to leave your personal Kelly Slater story below.

*Kelly, if you’re somehow reading this, I’m sorry!


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